Callous officials, wasted efforts

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.

With the declaration of results, Bangalore University students are finding the fruits as bitter as the roots.

Every year, the examination results bring some new complications for students who have slogged mercilessly throughout the year. This year it is the passing-out final year degree students of Bangalore University who are in deep trouble.

The results were out so late (they were expected June-end, but came only in August) that many couldn’t join the post-graduation courses they had applied for as the time for admission had elapsed. There are many students who have cleared the Indian Institute of Management MBA entrance examination and many other competitive exams, but now, because of the delay, all their efforts have simply gone down the drain.

Not only has a year been lost, but there is no certainty about the same competitive examinations being cleared in the subsequent attempts. Hence even bright students find their careers in jeopardy.

How much money you have to shell out and where, to get your work done, seems to be an open secret. A newspaper report once busted a racket in a college where you could “hire” your paper for a couple of days for Rs 5000. In this way, you could change your answers and make additions long after submitting your paper on the day of the examination. Some might find this process too tedious. They simply pay to pass directly.

A girl student was shocked to find that she had failed, but on cross-checking with the university, she found that she was actually a rank holder! In another case, a bundle of answer papers wasn’t dispatched from the examination to the valuation centre. This was discovered after the results were out.

Last year’s degree results had really gone haywire. Insiders had taken money and tampered with the annual examination results. An example is a student who had got 08 marks in a subject. He had it changed to 80. We have heard of students failing narrowly in subjects and paying money to pass. But this was a case of bribery in which someone who hadn’t even got double digits had ended up with distinction.

When the students started receiving their mark sheets in mid-1991, there were shock waves in the degree colleges. Some students had got through in subjects they had not even studied. Kannada students passed in Hindi. And Hindi students failed in Kannada. The examinations might have taken place in 1991, but many had passed in 1981! The confusion of the subjects and the years was bad enough, but studying hard for an examination, writing it and finding oneself marked absent was more frustrating. On the other hand, absent students found themselves passing out with flying colours.

Such mix-ups create havoc in a student’s life. If you thought having your subject changed was the limit, how about a change of faculty. This is just what happened after a certain “scrutiny” had taken place in the university. One shudders to think what the picture might have been before the scrutiny.

The reports on the goings-on in the university were many. Tampering had taken place at all stages from evaluation to tabulation. At places 3 was made 8, while 1 had become 9. Hence 35 could easily be made 85 and so on. Such alterations can be detected, but what if the answer booklet itself had been altered.

The university officials said they were inquiring into the matter. The result of the inquiry was that 3,002 errors were detected. Great! But how many undetected? Maybe tens of thousands. How many hours of hard work down the drain? Lakhs and lakhs…

Students went on strike. Rasta rokos. Cries for autonomy. Demands for justice. Articles and letters in newspapers. The result? A big naught.

Sending your papers for revaluation means losing a hundred rupees. Retotalling means twenty lost. A student had got first class and sent one of his papers for revaluation. The result was an increase of one mark. The remarks? Failed! This engineering student took his case to the newspapers which published both his mark sheets.

Such errors cause great hardship and come in the way of further studies. Another engineering student, who got a first class, was taken aback to find that the official concerned had entered his class as second. He went to the States for a post-graduate course. The institute there demanded a first division and rejected the faulty certificate. The student’s father gave the certificate for correction. The university lost it. Time was lost and the student even faced the prospect of repatriation.

The university has a penchant for losing important documents. This is just another example of carelessness where one wrong word on a certificate can result in the destruction of a career. With rising frustration, students are losing faith in the system.

In 1990, the “Year of the Engineering Student”, future engineers saw their results go topsy-turvy. Batches of students were marked absent in certain papers. A survey was done and it was found that about 30 per cent of the students had received incorrect mark sheets. Three out of ten is quite high.

The whole incident took an unexpected turn when the Vice Chancellor nullified the results of more than a hundred students. A hundred careers knocked down in a single stroke.

Bangalore University is not a stray case. It is an integral part of the whole education system which is decaying.

Till the eighties, there was faith left at least in the civil services, the IITs and the IIMs. The civil services papers are now being leaked regularly while the latest IIT-JEE, it was reported, had six faulty questions in a total of 40. With thousands taking the examination, a single question can cause a massive swing in the merit list. What do you make of six wrong questions?

One incident shows that at least the average student hasn’t lost his sense of humour.

There was a poster, with three bold words: Jesus never fails.
To this, someone had scribbled as addition:
…because he never was a student of Bangalore University

(This article appeared in Deccan Herald newspaper on October 16, 1992)

What’s in a name did you say?

Have you even wondered how the planets of our solar system have been named? Or the days of the week? Or, for that matter, the months of the year?

The planets were named after the Roman Gods. In Roman mythology, Mercury was the messenger god and hence the swiftest. The planet is fastest while going around the sun, taking just 88 earth days. Pluto, in contrast, takes 248 years for its revolution! Venus was the goddess of love and beauty. The planet is surrounded by white clouds giving it a mystique and a dreamy look. This ‘morning and evening star’ is also the brightest object in the night sky. Mars is the god of war. When we think of war, we think of bloodshed. Mars is ‘the Red Planet,’ red denoting the colour of blood.

Jupiter is the chief Roman God. It is also the largest planet of the solar system. Saturn, the god of agriculture is Jupiter’s father. It is the second largest planet. Uranus, the seventh planet is blue in colour and according to legend, lord of the sky. Neptune is the god of the oceans and is greenish-blue in colour like the sea.

Pluto is god of the underworld (hell), a place below the earth which is dark and dull. Pluto is so far away from the sun that it appears only like a bright star. Thus, it is always night in Pluto.

The days of the week are named after the Scandavian Gods.

Sunday is named after the sun and Monday after the moon. Tuesday after Tyr, the god of war. (In German mythology, it is Tiw, the dark god). Woden, the greatest Scandavian god had the fourth day of the week named after him and Thursday gets its name from Thor, the god of thunder.  Friday was Freya’s day. Legend has it that Freya’s husband was Woden, and their son was Thor. Both had days named after them and as they didn’t want her to be jealous, the next day, Friday, was her day. Finally, Saturday was ‘Saturn’s day.’

For the months of the year, we again have to look to Roman mythology and the Latin language.

January is named after Janus, the protector of the gateway of heaven. February, after februalia, a time when sacrifices are made for atoning sins. March after Mars, the god of war. The next two months being part of spring are named that way. April comes from ‘ap erire,’ Latin, meaning to open buds. May after Maia, goddess of growth of plants.

June comes from juvenis, Latin for youth. Some sources also say that April is named after Aprilis and that February and June are named after the gods Felruas and Juno respectively. July uis named after Julius Caeser while August after his grand-nephew Augustus Caeser.

September, October, November and December come from the Latin words Septem, Octo, Novem and Decem which mean 7,8,9 and 10. But September is the ninth month and December is the twelfth month in our calendar today. The reason why the above names are given is that at that time, the first month was March resulting in September being the seventh month. The same goes for the other three months.

So English is a hybrid of languages from all over the world, Latin and Greek having the greatest influence. More than 60 per cent of English words come directly from Latin and Greco-Latin or through French.

(This article appeared in the Young World section of The Hindu newspaper on October 10, 1992)